Since 2012, I’ve been doing documentary work in Woodlane Village – a squatter camp in Pretoria. The informal settlement is home to 3000 people living in 846 shacks. The camp is located in the wealthy suburb of Moreleta Park and is surrounded by mansions and shopping malls.
This project explores the complexities of social and economic inclusion in contemporary South Africa. Scenes of everyday life provide an intimate view of Woodlane Village: a place of promise and heartache; a place of perseverance and faith; a place where personal histories reveal complex social truths.
Images and stories from this project were published in June 2019 by Daylight Books (See the DIGITAL STORY)
Evidence of Habitation explores informal housing and homelessness in Edmonton, the provincial capital of Alberta, Canada. The project reveals the signs of individuals as they seek refuge in the interstitial spaces of the city. The photos document the physical and symbolic processes of place-making in wooded areas, ravines, alleyways, and under bridges across the four seasons.
By documenting the material conditions of temporary housing, the photos challenge the “otherness” that accompanies the discourse on homelessness—while also raising questions such as: What is a home? Who is a neighbour? Who has the rightful access to the resources and bounty of the City? What responsibilities do we have to our fellow citizens?
This series explores how patterns of sand can trace the history of a place. During my daily walks along a stretch of beach in Aposentillo, Nicaragua, I was struck by the unique images left behind by retreating waves. It occurred to me that the layers of light and dark volcanic particles convey deeper meanings. It is as if the land and the ocean are channelling the spirit of the Nicaraguan poet Rubén Darío and his images of deep sea-swells and charcoal horizons.
There is a dialogue between the land and the ocean — a visual communication. In this case, the script reveals the origin of Nicaragua and its tumultuous past. The writing also foreshadows what might come as traditional ways of life are disrupted by the arrival of tourism and the increased foreign investment. Storm clouds are also present as the country experiences another phase of civil unrest and bloodshed.
Images from a recent visit to New York City. Part of a series of snapshots loosely exploring the colours of the American flag.
HOMELANDS explores life in South Africa through the experiences of Donald Banda, who resides in Woodlane Village, an informal settlement located in a wealthy suburb in Pretoria. Photographs and first-person accounts reveal the complexities of social and economic inclusion in contemporary South Africa. They also speak to the universal human desire for belonging. As Donald says, “There is no place like home. But if home no longer feels like home, we are lost. We are a lost generation.”
"Each of us is as intimately attached to the soil of this beautiful country as are the famous jacaranda trees of Pretoria and the mimosa trees of the bushveld – a rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world."
— Nelson Mandela, 1994
As South Africa approaches the 25-year anniversary of the abolishment of apartheid, it is important to reflect on the country’s imperfect journey to democracy. For many, the dream of the “rainbow nation” remains elusive.